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Full text of "A history of Persia"

XLV

THE ESTABLISHMENT OF ISLAM       21

lost the love and admiration of men of the highest
character, such as Abu Bekr and Omar, and to the end he
retained his simplicity, his kindliness, and his courtesy to
rich and poor alike. Moreover, he continued throughout
his career to proclaim himself <c a simple prophet and a
warner," though he might easily have made higher claims.
The introduction of Islam brought many benefits
to the Arabs. It taught the unity of God, enjoined
brotherly love towards all fellow-believers, proscribed
infanticide, secured rights for women and consideration
for slaves. Alcohol was strictly forbidden. Impartial
observers have told me that in India Islam has raised
millions of men in self-respect and other virtues to a
wonderful extent, and I have already shown how benefi-
cent was its effect upon the Arabs. In the case of the
Mongols the change was no less marked, as may be seen
by contrasting the savagery of Chengiz with the kind-
ness, the consideration, and the justice of Ghazan, whose
many virtues were undoubtedly due to his genuine con-
version to Islam. In Africa, too, when the negro adopts
Islam he generally rises in the scale of humanity. While
remaining an African, he is better dressed, better mannered,
and altogether a better and cleaner man. On the other
hand, a negro when Christianized is sometimes unable to
assimilate our more complex civilization, and in such cases
becomes a caricature of the European. These remarks
apply to a certain extent to the Asiatic also, but in a lesser
degree, because the Semite and the Aryan start from
ancient civilizations of their own.
If, as I believe, religion is made for man and not man
for religion, it is impossible to withhold approval and
admiration from a man whose achievements have been so
great. But against these undoubted benefits of Islam
there are some things to be set on the other side. The
list includes polygamy, the seclusion and veiling of women,
slavery, narrowness of thought, and harsh treatment of
non-Moslems. As for polygamy, it is slowly dying out'
owing to progress an$ economic circumstances, and the
veil too, with all that it stands for, is beginning to disappear
in Turkey. It must be recollected that even in Christian